Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2007-11-20 18:19
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Reserve lists were due yesterday, which meant that it was teams' last opportunity to protect their eligible minor leaguers from the upcoming Rule 5 draft. The Yankees added three men to their 40-man roster yesterday and a fourth at the end of last week to bring their total roster to 39 men.

That group of 39 does not, however, include re-signed free agents Jorge Posada and Jose Molina, nor does it include Mariano Rivera, who has supposedly accepted the Yankees three-year, $45-million offer, nor Alex Rodriguez, whose record-breaking deal has yet to be finalized. Mix in those four and they're up to 43, which is three more than 40 for those who lost count.

So what's going on? Are the Yankees going to try to hold off making those four signings official until after the Rule 5 draft? If they pull that off, I'll be mighty impressed. The Rule 5 draft isn't until December 6, more than two weeks away. Will MLB really stand for these sort of roster shenanigans?

No matter what happens, the Yankees will eventually have to drop at least three men who are currently on their 40-man roster, and more if they're able to talk Andy Pettitte into coming back, or if they plan on adding anyone else to the bullpen (such as Luis Vizcaino, whom Brian Cashman has said he wants to re-sign).

This is one reason why there are rumors swirling around that the Yankees will release Carl Pavano to clear room on their 40-man roster, but Pavano's just one man. I wonder if this is a sign that the Yankees are trying to swing some sort of multi-player trade for a big target.

As for the new additions, a few quick words:

Francisco Cervelli is an actual catching prospect. He's a switch-hitter who hits for average and has strong on base numbers, will start the 2008 season in double-A, and doesn't turn 22 until March. On the flip side, he hasn't shown much power, but still strikes out quite a bit, and needs to work on his right-handed stroke.

Steven White is a 26-year-old righty starter who was drafted out of Baylor, but has had his progress slowed by injuries. He's spent most of the past two seasons in triple-A and could prove to be a useful utility pitcher. Says new pitching coach Dave Eiland, "His arm is very resilient. I think he can fit that role as a middle guy, long reliever, spot starter. I think he's somebody you're going to see and hear some things from in '08 at some point."

Jeff Marquez, another righty starter, is a 23-year-old sinkerballer with a great changeup and a good curve who can also hit the mid-90s with his straight heater. He was the lesser half of the Trenton Thunder's 1-2 rotation punch with Allan Horne last year and should join Horne in the Scranton rotation this year.

Scott Patterson is essentially another Edwar Ramirez, a righty reliever signed out of the independent leagues who has put up some goofy numbers in the minors. The 28-year-old Patterson has spent most of the last two seasons in double-A Trenton and posted a 1.47 ERA in 116 1/3 innings with 10.52 K/9 and nearly six Ks for every walk (5.91 to be exact). Not to be confused with the former Yankee farmhand who went on to star in Gilmore Girls.

Completely off-topic, I actually wound up watching the premier of "Frank TV" last night. I know the mere name of the show is enough to give most of you dry heaves given how heavily and annoyingly the show was promoted during the postseason, but I had become a fan of Frank Caliendo after finding out about him through fellow Toaster Scott Long (Scott's a friend and writer of Frank's). After checking out some of Caliendo's stuff on youtube and seeing him destroy on impressionist week on Letterman, I had to give him a shot. Still, I only stumbled upon the show last night because the writers strike has forced my wife and I to TBS for "The Office" reruns as our DVR is now devoid of half-hour programing.

It's often unfair to review the premier of a comedy series. For example, the first episodes of three of my favorite shows: "The Office," "The Colbert Report," and "Late Nite with Conan O'Brien," were all somewhere between stiff and downright rough. Part of the issue with the latter two and Caliendo, who hosts his show before a live, on-camera audience, then throws to his pre-taped sketches over which we hear the audience's response, is that the audience is as tentative as the nervous, first-time host. Now, Conan and Colbert get huge recognition cheers for familiar bits and segments, and that stokes the audience and allows it to settle in, producing real laughter. Those cheers and laughs had to be forced in the early going, though, which was clearly the case for Caliendo last night. Most embarissingly, there were a couple instances in which you could tell that the applause and laughter had been artificially increased, rather poorly, I might add.

That said, Caliendo seemed at ease, and there is some promise in the show. The show consisted of four filmed sketches, one running gag, Caliendo's connective hosting, and one supposedly interactive bit involving an audience member. Of the four skits, one was a re-shot version of the Seinfeld Reunion bit that's been around on youtube for a while. In that sketch, Caliendo plays the four principles plus Newman in an unnecessarily high-concept reunion-show gag. Caliendo's impressions aren't quite as strong in the new version as on the old youtube version, but it's still an impressive bit, and the new version does throw in a black friend for Kramer, which was a nice touch. The next sketch saw Caliendo match voices with two of the movie preivew voiceover guys in a three-tenors setup (the ultimate effect was not unlike this). It was a funny bit, and Caliendo proved he could make a good living doing voiceover himself, but the staging was stiff and it fell flat as a result. The third sketch was an obvious, but entertainingly elaborate promo for the Bill Clinton Library with Caliendo as Clinton showing the viewer around ("What Happens in the Bill Clinton Library, Stays in the Bill Clinton Library"). In the last sketch, Caliendo played George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in a set-up in which Cheney gives Jenna Bush an emotion-free pre-wedding heart-to-heart because George doesn't know what to say. That premise isn't half bad, but it removed perhaps Caliendo's best impression (Bush) from the scene in favor of one of his weaker ones (Cheney), which was a miscalculation.

In between these sketches, Caliendo as John Madden was cooking Thanksgiving turducken backstage and reporting in to host Caldiendo. Caliendo's Madden is dead on (I saw an Ace Hardware commercial later in the night and, when Madden was in voiceover, I could easily convince myself it was Caliendo), but it's overdone. That's one thing the show will have to watch out for. Thanks in part to the overexposure of his promos, Caliendo will have to make an effort to do new and unique impressions (he imroved a Robin Williams bit at the beginning of the show, but the impression is so dead-on that it quickly becomes as annoying and unfunny as the real thing). At the end of the show, Caliendo did a Hollywood Squares bit as Charles Barkley. It was one of the best parts of the show because not only did Caliendo nail Barkley, but who else does Charles Barkley? Turns out Barkley's a hilarious impression. Good on ya, Frank. More sleepers like that (and Jeff Goldblum per the Letterman clip above) and you may really have something.

The other thing Caliendo will need to work on is getting off script in his hosting segments. Early in the show he brought up a random audience member to be his "co-host," which successfully got him off script and gave the show some life, but he still fell back in to a very canned delivery when throwing to the various sketches and such. If Caliendo can get off script as the host and work in more unique and offbeat impressions like Barkley, the show just might work, though the odds are still stacked against a one-man impressionist sketch comedy show that debuted on basic cable during a writer's strike. While the strike may get him additional viewers right now, if it forced him to get too many shows in the can before any of them aired, it may prevent him from making the sort of early adjustments necessary to keep them.

And that is more than anyone wanted to know about the debut episode of "Frank TV."

2007-11-21 04:20:07
1.   DadinIowa
Any idea who might be involved in any big trade?
2007-11-21 04:39:40
2.   JL25and3
There's plenty of dead wood on the 40-man roster that can be cleared away as necessary. T.J. Beam, Matt DeSalvo, Jose Veras, and Chase Wright aren't prospects anymore, and shouldn't be all that hard to replace if necessary. Pavano can be released, preempting any possibility that a late-season comeback will give Mattpat an aneurysm. And though Andy Phillips seems like a wonderful guy, he's 30 and not likely to be getting any better.

Personally, I thought the high point of Impressionist Week was Claude Monet's standup routine. "Take Rouen Cathedral - please!"

2007-11-21 05:29:35
3.   mehmattski
So does this mean the end of the road for Eric Duncan, a sign that the Yankees just don't care if he's scooped up by another team? Or do they not think there's any risk that any other team will want to waste a 25-man roster spot on Duncan next season?
2007-11-21 05:42:59
4.   Mattpat11
I'll believe Pavano is gone when he's gone.

And I just really don't think Caliendo's act fits a full 30 minute program. Its nice in two or three minute bursts, but it wears thin.

2007-11-21 05:59:57
5.   Levy2020
How much miLB service time is required to eligible for the Rule 5 draft?

(And it's not like the expansion drafts where the teams can protect more players as the draft progresses, is it?)

2007-11-21 06:16:20
6.   williamnyy23
5 Within 4 years of signing if 19 or older and within 5 years of signing if 18.

I don't believe you can protect more players if one of yours is selected. An important thing to keep in mind is that you can onbly select players if you have a vacancy on your 40-man. So, with a 39-man roster, the Yankees can select one player (unless they release a player from the 40-man). I'd imagine if the Yankees really liked two players, they might consider releasing Pavano.

I think it's pretty clear that the Yankees have delayed their signings to free up more roster spots, which, as Cliff suggested, is brilliant.

2007-11-21 06:18:58
7.   williamnyy23
With the return of all the type-A free agents, it means the Yankees aren't likely to pick up any additional draft picks (which made the thought of losing a 1st rounder to Boston for the right to overpay Lowell so ridiculous). Going forward, I hope Cashman will keep that fact in mind, and shy away from any acquistions that cost a high level draft pick.
2007-11-21 06:26:19
8.   williamnyy23
Speaking of draft picks, it nice to see Ausitn Jackson emerge as a true blue ship prospect. Along with Tabata, Jackson gives the Yankees another bonafide position player prospect in what is a pitching-heavy farm. It would be nice if Cashman could find time to trade a few pitching prospects for position prospects to further balance out the system. Under the radar deals like that could wind up being more worthwhile than picking through the ML free agent class.
2007-11-21 06:33:30
9.   Murray
The Modell's near Grand Central is well-stocked with Pavano 45 t-shirts. They're right next to the Igawa shirts.
2007-11-21 06:54:23
10.   williamnyy23
9 I was in a Modells the other day and noticed that too...I also noticed that Arod shirts were oddly absent. I think someone at Modells needs to get them back on the floor. Of course, no one commanded more space than Joba. Mr. Chamberlain had over two racks of specialty shirts. Not bad for 21.
2007-11-21 07:01:47
11.   JohnnyC
2 JL25and3, are you old enough to remember Steve Martin's classic short story on the Rouen Cathedral? It's easy to forget how instrumental Martin was in shaping what we think of today as "conceptual" humor. On the other hand, he's been bat guano for 25 years.
2007-11-21 07:05:38
12.   YankeeInMichigan
With Carr's retirement and the Lions' loss being day-old news, the local talk shows turned to the MVP vote last night. Pat Caputo (an Oakland Press columnist and former Tigers beat writer whose show, The Book on Sports, is the most baseball-centric in the region) was moaning about how the Detroit writers were being objective and the how rest of the nation disrespects the Tigers. While the accusation has some merit (he aptly noted Alan Trammell's Hall of Fame snub -- I would throw in the poor MVP showings by Granderson this year and Guillen last year), the case for Ordonez over A-Rod is pathetic (as we discussed yesterday, if all of A-Rod's homers were doubles, Ordonez would hold a slight edge). I guess that when one is emotionally involved with a player's daily heroics, objectivity is impossible.
2007-11-21 07:14:47
13.   JL25and3
11 I'm old enough to remember everything Steve Martin's done. Unfortunately, I don't know that one.
2007-11-21 07:21:25
14.   JohnnyC
It's ironic to paraphrase Michael Kay that the Yankees operate in the one media market in the entire country (or world for that matter)where most of the writers who cover the team are not only NOT Yankees fans but grew up hating the team to some degree. The chances of a Yankees player getting the emotional benefit of a doubt in any voting process from the NY contingent is slim and none. Even admitted Yankees fans like Bill Madden proudly wear their "objectivity" by, as he did in 1978 and 1986, voting for Jim Rice and Roger Clemens over Ron Guidry and Don Mattingly for MVP. And his reasoning was a complete 180 in each case. That's why there is no New York analogue to Peter Gammons.
2007-11-21 07:29:19
15.   JohnnyC
13 My own memory is failing me. Actually, Martin's short story was in Cruel Shoes and it wasn't Rouen Cathedral but Chartres. It's a deadpan first-person account of a man who is hired to do the demolition job on the famous cathedral, does a crack job of it, and then returns home to his Manhattan duplex (he's well-paid)to read up on the structure he's just razed. After researching a few coffee table books of photos of the cathedral, he sighs to the the reader how truly fortunate he was to have seen it in person before it was destroyed. Absurdist humor with an edge.
2007-11-21 07:43:11
16.   JL25and3
15 Yeah, I was able to find (and read) it here:

Great stuff.

2007-11-21 08:01:05
17.   pistolpete
For some odd reason, the Eiland quote makes me all warm & fuzzy inside. Now, it could mainly be because he's worked in the minors the last few years and he actually knows these guys, but it's sure nice to have a coaching staff who can expound on a player's merits beyond the 'BFOG' factor.

Just the fact that Girardi was in the Dominican Republic scouting talent gives me great hope for the immediate future of this franchise.

2007-11-21 08:53:53
18.   tommyl
17 Its certainly better than the old Joe not knowing what Joba Chamberlain looked like last year.
2007-11-21 08:56:38
19.   liam
17 i think that actually emphasizes future viability, but i agree. girardi's going to be good.

i think the media did a lot to mess with the image of torre as a person though, i'm reading his book (by verducci) and he seems like a much more determined person then i would have imagined by the image presented to us by NY Post et al.

0 why is 1 spot kept open? is it used as a "wildcard" spot for someone they didnt think of that they would want to save? how does the 39 spots indicate that a big trade is in the mix? what is to stop the yankees from their (genius) technique of not signing their FA's until the rule 5 draft is over?

2007-11-21 09:02:36
20.   RIYank
Shelley's arm hurts. But they say it isn't serious.

2007-11-21 09:03:44
21.   dianagramr

Duncan had a blood clot .... but not much other news being released

2007-11-21 09:07:57
22.   pistolpete
21 Is it his high-five arm? :-O
2007-11-21 09:10:38
23.   Just fair
{0} I watched a Frank Caliendo special on TBS last Friday. The highlight for me was when he did Darth Vader as Al Pacino. HI-larious.
2007-11-21 10:44:38
24.   jkay
An interesting tid-bit from an article about the sale of South Brother Island (a small island in the East River near Rikers).

South Brother may have been a base for Union soldiers during the Civil War, and in about 1894, it was purchased by Jacob Ruppert Jr., a brewing magnate who bought the Yankees with Col. Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston in 1915. (Mr. Ruppert's tenure in baseball included the purchase of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox, the opening of Yankee Stadium and eight World Series titles.) Mr. Ruppert built a yacht house on South Brother, and amateur baseball games were held on an adjacent field. Legend has it that Ruth would occasionally show up to practice his swing, swatting balls far into the East River.

2007-11-21 13:57:19
25.   OldYanksFan
"Fans name Hughes AFL's top pitcher
Royals prospect topped fan vote for Pitcher of the Year."
This guy is named 'Dusty' Hughes.
2007-11-21 14:01:55
26.   OldYanksFan
From Steve at WW:
ARod might be a better deal then we thought.
Check out the part: "about $45 million annually"
2007-11-21 15:26:02
27.   RIYank
26 That's interesting.
Zimbalist is about the only sports economists who doesn't seem to be talking out of his butt.
2007-11-21 18:19:02
28.   Mattpat11
Has Pavano been released yet?
2007-11-21 18:35:18
29.   Chyll Will
28 I think they're waiting for Turkey Day...
2007-11-21 18:55:33
30.   Mattpat11
It would be a nice Christmas present as well.
2007-11-21 19:02:18
31.   Chyll Will
I thought the same thing. What a happy New Year that would make, eh?
2007-11-21 23:43:20
32.   thelarmis
2:30am, east coast -- torii hunter signs with the halos. i've been following mlbtraderumors, and it certainly seemed like his hometown rangers or the pale hose, w/ the royals lagging behind. new gm for the angels makin' some waves - garland and hunter. won't change much in the AL West, but Haren might be more wont to move now. we'll see...

oh, it looks like 5 years, at least $16 mil. per... good lord, i wish i made baseball money... : ~
duncanstein out of the hospital. hopefully he's fine from the sports hernia and blood clot.

c'mon andy, come on back and give us something to be thankful for on turkey day!

2007-11-21 23:45:17
33.   thelarmis
hmmm, on second thought, what about that gary matthews jr. signing from just last year? 5 years, $50 mil. i guess he'll move to a corner? would be pretty funny if torii ends up on that mitchell report. i guess it's certainly a possibility...
2007-11-21 23:52:05
34.   thelarmis
hunter has never posted much more than an average OBP (high of .337) and his career OPS+ is 104. something that's not mentioned much about his game, but he's been caught stealing almost HALF the time!!! 126 career steals, been caught 60 times. yikes.

halos have vlad in right and garrett in left. willits is probably a trade candidate. that still leaves sarge jr. and his horrible contract and juan rivera for. i guess that's their bench/dh/LIDR/etc...

i haven't checked on park factors and such, but starting this contract in the season hunter will turn 33, doesn't bode so well for the halos. apparently, this all came about in the last 24 hours...

2007-11-22 00:14:13
35.   thelarmis
is it just me...but, at this point, i think i might rather have kazmir or bedard than santana...

both are younger, both have pitched in the AL East. bedard has already had some injury issues, so perhaps they're behind him. though it's thought santana would thrive in a big market, kaz already has some experience dealing with it, even though he was traded so young.

santana, whilst amazing, has had some #'s decline in the last few years. all trades would require a massive bounty and an awful lot of money, but i'd hate to give away sooo much for johan when he might be about to crack. i'm thinkin' i'd rather go for a bedard or kazmir, if, in fact, we're gonna go that route.

best case scenario, might be, getting andy back for 2008, and somehow snagging texeira and either bedard/kazmir for '09, if possible...

2007-11-22 00:15:03
36.   thelarmis
ah crap, where's yankz when ya need him?! hey, cult, you're left coast, you around? ...
2007-11-22 00:49:02
37.   51cq24
34 that would be almost 1/3 of the time.

35 santana is a week younger than bedard and is the best pitcher in baseball. kazmir was traded before ever pitching for the mets, so he has no big market experience. i'd rather have santana than either of the other 2, especially bedard. but i wouldn't want to give up what it would cost to get any of them.

2007-11-22 00:53:03
38.   thelarmis
37 ah, thanks - i was told there'd be there no math! ; )
2007-11-22 04:52:51
39.   ny2ca2dc
I could've sworn the Halo's signed a CF of dubious offensive value and overrated defensively coming off a career year to a huge contract last year. Oh well, silly me, must've been dreaming.

Maybe this means Andruw could be had for 4 or 5 years 13-15m per, or maybe 5 for 15m per... Good hitter, Type-B free agent, seems like a no brainer, log jam be damned (see ya Johnny)! (just no no-trades!)

Happy Thanksgiving Alex & Cliff and all the contributors and my fellow Banterers.

2007-11-22 04:57:43
40.   ny2ca2dc
35 37 I would also prefer the Yanks target someone younger and cheaper (in terms of prospects/players) than Santana. The guy probably only has a year or two or maybe, maybe three of ace level performance left in him, I would die if we traded the farm for one year of him. I'd really rather just sign Bartolo Colon to a short contract at high $$ and higher incentives and go with the kids. I wouldn't trade Cano, Hughes, or Joba for almost anything, much less one year of Santana.
2007-11-22 06:42:43
41.   OldYanksFan
"Outfielder Torii Hunter and the Los Angeles Angels reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday night on a five-year contract thought to be worth $90 million."

I know I'm approaching deadhorse territory, but a 104+ OPS guy for $18m/yr? Can we step back a bit? Am I the only one who thinks this is pure insanity?

I hope Cashman sees the writing on the wall and realizes that developing your own is the only way to go, even for the rich Yankees. I mean, signing prime young meat is getting expensive, and holding on to them if they become impact players is also very expensive. Just look at Mo, Po and Bernie. Since some team will always overpay to get someone to 'put them over the top', we have to over-overpay to hold on to them.

I guess there may always be a few decent deals on the FA market to plug holes and upgrade, but I think the days of building a team from FAs is over.

The more you put into the farm and scouts and guys that help draft and find talent, the less you have to put into your 25 guys on the field.

35 I agree, but I don't know why. Somehow Kazmir or Bedard seem a better fit then Santana, possible because Santana is 'The' name, and will probably cost the most.

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